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Corporate exec turns to abstract art-making

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RIBBON-CUTTING ceremony with Diamond HotelGMVanessa Ledesma Suatengco, artist Rene Cruz, art collector Danny Paragas and Ching Cruz

Rowena “Ching” Bueno-Cruz has always been exposed to the  visual arts—the business side of the arts, that is.

Married to artist Rene Cruz, she has been his curator since he began exhibiting over 20 years ago. Today, however, she is the center of attraction when she recently exhibited for the first time her own paintings.

A former marketing and sales EVP of an insurance company,  Cruz says she never gave painting a thought until three years ago when she took a sabbatical.

One morning, she walked inside her husband’s studio on the third floor of their home, picked up a brush, and started painting. She didn’t know what she was doing; she didn’t even know what she wanted to create—the closest thing to “painting” she had ever done was doing her own makeup—but she just kept going, allowing her hand to lead the way.

When Rene came home that night, he was surprised at the piece waiting for him in his studio: “Maganda ito!” The painting is now titled “The Origin.”

Rowena “Ching” Bueno Cruz. PHOTOS BY ARNOLD ALMACEN

Cruz  says she has been influenced by Rene’s abstract paintings. “I believe in his paintings. I love his works, that’s why I can sell them.”

The sister of theater actor Celeste Bueno and psychiatrist/sex therapist Dr. Agnes Bueno, Cruz is the fourth of six siblings. She was a true-blue corporate woman; painting and exhibiting had never crossed her mind before.

“I just know I love putting on makeup,” she explains, “so I think I learned something from there. [The lines] are all about control, like putting on eyeliner and eyeshadow. These are calculated. But at no time will it be the same painting. The lines are never the same but the colors will keep on repeating.”

Wearing a conservative black dress and a big smile, with Rene quietly standing by her side, Rowena opened the exhibit surrounded by friends from high school, art collectors and artist-friends at the second-floor lobby of Diamond Hotel in Manila. The exhibit is a back-to-back show with husband Rene’s.

“DEEP Red”

While the vivid, bright colors and bold, confident lines belie the artist who often dresses in dark color, they are honest representations of her bubbly personality.

Cruz says she stays away from dark color.

“I love colors,” she says. “I love life itself and what it has to offer. If you look at life, your frustrations are just a part of it, but that can consume you if you focus on it. So I don’t want to touch the dark color.”

Abstract art, she says, is really not easy to execute as most people think. It has long been questioned by many artists for its “legitimacy,” she says it takes a brave soul to hold the brush and see what comes out on the canvas. It’s only when the painting unfolds itself in front of you, she continues, that you get a concept of what it is.

“ETERNITY”

“Tsunami,” for instance, one of her early works  sold on the opening night, didn’t get have the look of a tsunami until she was halfway through it, she reveals.

The opening night sold five paintings, but the exhibit had to give way to hotel renovations.

Cruz says she plans to bring the exhibit to Alabang soon.


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